Posts Tagged With: Cabo San Lucas

Margaritas, Chips, Pico de Gallo, and WIFI in Mexico

After a stop on Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas at a place called the Office for margaritas and chips with pico de gallo and wi-fi, we decided it would be fun to try these items at each port in Mexico.  Then we would compare each stop and pick our favorites.

Cabo is beautiful and I would absolutely return there.  All items in our test passed with flying colors and became the standard we used compare offerings on our future stops.  Our table on the beach at the Office provided amazing views of the water with a relaxing vibe.  Although they are still cleaning up from the recent hurricane, we didn’t see a lot of damage but then we hadn’t been there before Hurricane Odile.

Our next port was Puerto Vallarta. The margaritas seemed a little low on alcohol and the wi-fi didn’t work at all at the restaurant where we stopped. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the renovated mile-long Malecon (boardwalk) in Old Town taking pictures of many of the incredible sculptures and watching the colorful aerial show of the Voladores de Papantla.  Accompanied by a flutist playing at the top of the 50 foot pole, the four flyers representing earth, water, fire, and air, fall head first from and circle the pole 13 times before reaching the ground in a religious ritual dating back 1500 years (Puerto Vallarta Official Website).  After our visit to Old Town including Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, we stopped at Starbucks right on the central square to use their excellent wi-fi, then took the local bus back to the cruise port.  I’m ashamed to admit we also popped into the Wal-Mart by the cruise port for some supplies.

After a day at sea, we arrived in Huatulco, my favorite of the Mexican ports on this itinerary. The beach is located directly next to the dock for cruise ships with restaurants lining the beach. This time we knew to try the wi-fi before ordering anything and then we all settled in to catch up on email and Facebook. We quickly discovered that the wi-fi was intermittent and very slow so frustration ensued. After our margaritas, we checked out the beach, determined to get into the Pacific Ocean at least once.  The water was comfortable but the sun on the beach was so intensely hot that common sense soon prevailed sending all of us in search of shade.

The following day, we arrived in Puerto Chiapas to learn that the city of Tapachula was 45 minutes by shuttle with no wi-fi until we got there. Off we went to Tapachula in search of Mexican culture to accompany our margaritas, chips with pico de gallo, and wi-fi. A city of over 300,000 inhabitants, I’m sorry to report that not much about Tapachula impressed me.  The wi-fi was again unreliable; the restaurant were we stopped didn’t serve margaritas; the city was crowded, loud, and dirty; and the next day I had gastroenteritis. Enough said.

When we got back to the port at Puerto Chiapas, we were surprised to discover a restaurant with good margaritas, chips and pico de gallo, and although there was no wi-fi, there was good music with a performance by local dancers and even a swimming pool.  Had we known, we’d have stayed right there and not ventured into Tapachula at all.

Hands down, the voting members of our group agreed that we had the best margaritas in Cabo San Lucas.  The best wi-fi was, without a doubt, at Starbucks in Puerto Vallarta.  First place for chips and pico de gallo goes to the restaurant at Huatulco.  Puerto Chiapas didn’t get first place in any category but if we had included entertainment as a category, I think we would all agree the local dancers were outstanding.

Next time:  Quarantine!

 

 

Categories: Mexico, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

High Seas Adventure at Cabo San Lucas

When we boarded the boat and noted the boat operator had the cover off the outboard motor, we should have expected adventure. In fact, Jim commented that it wasn’t a good sign. A fisherman with some experience with motor problems, it was an omen to him.

Instead of taking the cruise line’s excursion to Land’s End for 1 hour at a cost of $29 per person, we hired one of the water taxis on the dock for $20 each when we got off our tender at Cabo.  We were joined by our friends, Lori and Rick, and a mother and her adult daughter from our cruise ship.  (We later found out the mother and daughter negotiated a $15 rate.)  This is billed as a glass bottom boat tour but that’s a bit of a stretch.  The boat would seat 12 persons at most and the glass bottom is a glass insert on the floor of the boat providing a murky view at best.  We donned well-worn, somewhat grungy life vests and away we went.

Located at the end of the Baja Peninsula where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, the rock formations found off the coast of Mexico at Cabo San Lucas are collectively called Land’s End. It’s a short boat ride and the photo opportunities were excellent.  The boat operator kept up a steady description of the area although some of his English was difficult to understand over the competing motor noise.  We saw the iconic landmark, El Arco (The Arch); caves in the rocks, and Lover’s Beach in the bay while hearing that Divorce Beach is located through the rocks on the Pacific side.  We even spied Pedro, the sea lion of youtube fame who was captured on film stealing a fish.

Land's End

Land’s End, Cabo San Lucas

The Arch

The Arch, Land’s End, Cabo

Lover's Beach

Lover’s Beach, Cabo San Lucas

The Arch

The Arch, Land’s End

Pacific Ocean, Land's End

Land’s End from the Pacific Side

Land's End

Opening in the rocks from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean

 

Pedro, the Sea Lion

Pedro, the Sea Lion

As we reached the other side of the outcropping, where the bay meets the Pacific Ocean, the engine died. The water was considerably rougher out in the open ocean and the operator pulled the the cord repeatedly to start the engine as the bigger waves bounced us farther away from the coast.  The motor fired then died, fired, then died again, about five or six times.

boat, Land's End

Our boat operator trying to start motor, note orange rubber glove

This is when the adult daughter began to hyperventilate, indicating a panic attack. I sort of expected it. When I saw her put on orange rubber gloves earlier in the trip, I thought she might have some issues. Her mother tried to comfort her and the others of us weren’t sure whether we should ignore the situation to give her privacy or add our two cents worth. I finally said, “With all these boats out here any one of them can tow us in.” Sure enough, the operator used his cell phone, called someone, and another boat approached. Of course, about that time, the engine fired and finally stayed running so a tow was no longer needed.

All’s well that ends well, but it was, nevertheless, an adventure worth recording. The juxtaposition of feeling very vulnerable on a small boat compared to the security we felt on our huge cruise ship merits contemplation. Then when I compared these experiences with the events I was currently reading in the book, Unbroken, in which three airmen from a B24 crashed into the Pacific during WW2,  surviving for 47 days in a 2 man rubber raft with no food or water while surrounded by sharks, it gave me additional pause for thought.  Like, thank goodness for cell phones.

Categories: Mexico, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Cruising from the Port of Los Angeles

We always arrive a day early for a cruise departure, just to ensure that we have extra time in case of travel delays. This was our first departure from the Port of Los Angeles and we wanted a hotel near the cruise port with a shuttle to deliver us to the port. If you need a hotel, I suggest you book it when you book your cruise. I waited for several months after booking our cruise and the hotel I wanted was full so I settled on the Hilton Doubletree in San Pedro, as my second choice. I also arranged a deal with a breakfast buffet so we wouldn’t arrive hungry (don’t ask me why!) to our cruise ship, the Norwegian Star, for our 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal.

With an early flight out of Des Moines, Iowa, and a two-hour time change to the earlier, we arrived by 9 AM in California at LAX. The taxi ride early on a Sunday morning to San Pedro took only about 40 minutes with little traffic. Our hotel rooms weren’t available yet so we left our bags there and took the hotel shuttle to downtown San Pedro. Not a lot was going so early but we stopped by the visitor’s center which was open, surprisingly, and with advice from a helpful staff person, quickly decided that a foursome from Iowa should check out the Battleship Iowa at the LA Waterfront.

Jim and I toured this ship in Norfolk, Virginia, back in the 80’s before it was decommissioned but we were game to see it again. We were delighted to discover that Iowa residents can now tour the ship for free because the State of Iowa contributed funds for its refurbishment and preservation.

Iowa Battleship

Iowa Battleship, San Pedro, CA

Iowa Battleship

Iowa Battleship Admission Prices

Recognition Plaque

Plaque Recognizing Contribution of the State of Iowa

The Big Stick (the Iowa’s nickname) was launched in 1942 as the lead ship of four ships in the Iowa class of battleships. The others are the Wisconsin, the Missouri, and the New Jersey. If Jim had a blog, he would tell you all about the 16 inch guns on the ship and other details that you may find fascinating about battle ships in general and the Iowa class specifically.

!6 inch guns on Iowa Battleship

Rick, Lori, and Jim in front of the 16 inch guns on the Battleship Iowa

I, however, prefer social history over military history. To me, the most interesting part of the ship was a tour of the rooms used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt while in transit to Tehran for the conference with Churchill and Stalin to plan the D-Day invasion of WWII. Doors had to be widened to accommodate FDR’s wheelchair; a kitchen was installed for his personal meal preparation; and the only bathtub on any ship in the fleet was installed for the President’s daily soak.

FDR's Rooms on the Iowa

Rooms Used by President FD Roosevelt While Aboard the Iowa

Volunteer aboard the Iowa Battleship

Volunteer Telling about President Roosevelt’s Journey to Africa on the Iowa

Another interesting tidbit involved the ship’s mascot, a dog called Vicky, short for Victory. The captain’s dog occasionally went AWOL from the ship but always seemed to turn up in time to set sail. One time she went missing in Long Beach, CA, and a call went out in the newspaper to help find her. Apparently it worked because a later report indicated she was back on board.

Mascot Vicky

Ship Mascot, Victory, during WW2

The walk along the waterfront in San Pedro is pleasant with a shopping area and locally significant sculptures to experience.

Jacob's Ladder

Statue of 2 Merchant Marines climbing a Jacob’s Ladder after a rescue at sea

Harry Bridges

Statue of Harry Bridges in San Pedro, CA, founder of International Longshore and Warehouse Union

Fishing Industry Memorial, San Pedro, CA

Fishing Industry Memorial, San Pedro, CA

Before heading back to the hotel, we ducked into The Whale and Ale, a local pub also recommended at the tourist information, for a late lunch. The owner was authentically British judging by his accent and the quality of the food was definitely above typical pub fare. We were all satisfied and ready to return to the hotel.

Local Pub, The Whale and Ale

Local Pub, The Whale and Ale, in San Pedro, CA

The Doubletree by Hilton is in a great location for cruising from the Port of Los Angeles. Overlooking the marina, the hotel is attractive and comfortable with a great breakfast. Our room was upgraded unbeknownst to us and we had a patio with a view of the marina. Some of the staff were a little wanting but most were topnotch. The carpet in the halls and stairways begs for replacement but overall, I would give this hotel high marks. The area is attractive with a long pedestrian walkway along the marina and my friend, Lori, and I felt quite safe walking without the men.

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

View from our room to our patio at the Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Hilton Doubletree Pool and Hot Tub

Hilton Doubletree, San Pedro, CA

Pedestrian Walkway in front of the Hilton Doubletree

San Pedro, CA

Vestiges of Halloween at the Marina, San Pedro, CA

 

The following day we were delivered promptly to the cruise port to begin our adventure through the Panama Canal with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; Costa Rica; and Columbia; ending in Miami.

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